Archive for January, 2012


New Strategic Sealift Readiness Group (SSRG)

January 31, 2012

In addition to being Chief Engineer, once upon a time DH was a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Reserve. His official title would have looked something like this: Lt. FIRST NAME LAST NAME, USNR, MMR, IRR.

USNR: US Navy Reserve, MMR: Merchant Marine Reserve, IRR: Individual Ready Reserve

USMMA Alumni Association & Foundation just announced a new program designed to “give the SSO’s (formerly IRRs) better access to the Navy Reserve Program and for the SSRG to better track every SSO in meeting their reserve obligation.”

Graduates of USMMA who do not go active duty, such as DH, are now designated SSOs (Strategic Sealift Officers). “The program is guided by the national needs delineated by Military Sealift Command. SSO’s are primarily employed in support of MSC when performing active duty or in the case of recall. The Military Service Obligation of 8 years remains the same, as well as the obligation to maintain valid USCG licenses, STCW requirements and TWIC.”

STCW: Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping, TWIC: Transportation Workers Identication Credential

I am unfamiliar with whether graduates of the five state schools have the same obligations. At least 10 years ago the trend at the state schools was to move away from a “regiment of midshipmen” and students had the option of being traditional students or join an ROTC type program. If anyone from these schools has any information to support this, I would appreciate it.

DH completed his 8 year requirement years ago but as an IRR if the conditions arose he could still be recalled. It would have to be a war on the scale of the Korean War for his particular specialty to be needed. At least that’s what I remember him telling me…

I would really like to find an image of the “sea chicken”. LOL


Project 365: Week 4

January 28, 2012

Jan. 22 I was kind of bummed that the church sign hadn’t changed. But I was able to find a way to document the first winter weather we had. Snow and ice on Sunday and 70 degrees on Thursday! What a crazy week.

Winter on Sunday

Jan. 23 Our nephew Flat Stanley was born. I feel a little funny posting pictures of him considering I won’t post pictures of my own children. So… here is a picture of DH and Cousin IT (Flat Stanley’s youngest older brother). DH said to him “High 5, dude, cause men don’t hug.”

High 5

Jan. 24 DH was wearing this shirt on the same day as I was wearing my SuperGirl shirt. It was very appropriate as we sold our wood stove and were helping the new owner get it out of our house and on to the back of his pick up. Do you know how much one of those things weighs? And ours is apparently larger than most. It took 6 high school football players to replace DH and I to get it off the truck and into the house. 4 people to load it, 8 people to unload it!

DH is a Super Dad

Jan. 25 In a tip of the hat to Jenners at Life…With Books, I decided to take a picture of my unicorn collection. Yup, ANOTHER collection. (Hmm… I wonder if I have 52 collections to post one a week?) This is probably one of the few that I cannot recall its origins. My collection is displayed on the wall of my office in a curio that I had gotten as bridal shower gift. It used to be in the dining room of our first home.


Jan. 26 Did I mention it was 70 degrees on Thursday? DH and I have been taking Heddie and Crook on excursions to get them socialized and to get used to handling them. They do much better getting in and out of the F-150. We decided today would be a good day to go Downtown. Many of the shops are dog friendly and we’re told on Saturdays there is a lot of foot traffic and other dogs to socialize with. I took tons of pictures to store up in case I forget to take a picture one day. I let T1 pick which should make it in this week’s post.

Gray Face in an Alley

Jan. 27 We had a dinner party. The teenagers decided the night should be ended by playing “Chubby Bunny.” Enough said.

"All the teens are doing it...!" T1 plays Chubby Bunny

Jan. 28 Not quite as warm as Thursday but still a balmy 60 degrees. We are within walking distance of a Gander Mountain store. We’ve taken the dogs to both pet stores nearby. Their socialization is going so well. I like seeing children who are scared of dogs reach out and pet our greyhounds. Funny, people say they’re “so big” and to us they look so small compared to Cassie or to male greyhounds.

Gander Walking!



Writing Workshop: SAHM

January 26, 2012

1.) Return to work after baby was born or stay home? How did you make your decision?

In case you haven’t figured it out, I am a stay at home mom. I have not worked a full-time job since I was 36 weeks pregnant with T1.

DH and I approached the decision rather logically. We took into account how much I made and how much would be spent on childcare. Of course we wouldn’t need childcare when DH was home, but that would be very disruptive to the child and not too many daycare facilities would hold a spot open like that. When it came down to it my salary would be paying for someone else to take care of my child–there really wouldn’t be anything left over. It just didn’t make sense.

My immediate boss–the art director–asked me point-blank if I was returning as soon as I announced my pregnancy. Because I knew he’d want a say in my replacement, and plenty of time to find one, I told him I would not be returning. I kept it from my other bosses until I was 6 months along, hoping three months would be enough to hire the right person. (Sadly I believe it took two attempts before they found a good fit.) I took the time during my pregnancy to pay off my college loan and left with that taken care of.

I became a Creative Memories consultant when I was pregnant with T1. I know there are women out there that can make 5 figures and cover their mortgage… I am just not one of them. But I am still a consultant and I still hold crops.

I worked part-time for the job I left to get them through a big project. I’d occasionally bring T1 with me when I couldn’t get a sitter. That made a stink. I was like, “Seriously? She’s under 6 months old–she sits in her bouncy seat and plays with a squeaky toy. And I’m only here as a favor to you guys for 6 weeks maximum.” My bosses told the bigwigs to let it go.

I also freelanced for them, writing and editing. My “contract” ended right about the time we decided to move south.

It was another two years before I was contacted by my very first employer to edit an online journal and they’d feed me some book contracts as they came in. The journal was not very hard to do–though I felt like I had lost every bit of editing knowledge I had, especially when drafts would come back from the managing editor bleeding red. But he kept sending me work so I guess I was doing an okay job.

The first book however was a different story. I couldn’t work on it solely after the children were in bed. I had to use daylight hours. I felt like the children were just sent to veg in front of the TV. DH was home only part of that time. We made the decision that I wouldn’t take another book project until they were both in school.

That “contract” lasted about 2-3 years but when I had to start implementing a late fee for failure to pay on time (and ask to have that put in my contract agreement) I knew something was up and I never renewed the contract.

I then threw myself into volunteering. But I still wanted to be able to contribute financially somehow, or at least pay for some of my frivolous things. I’ve said before that DH has never asked me to work or shamed me that I don’t. I try very hard to let him know I appreciate the sacrifices he makes so that I do not have to. I am trying to teach the girls to be grateful for all the extras they enjoy–scouts, soccer, music, camp, clothes galore, etc., etc.

So with T1 in 5th grade and T2 in 3rd, I became a substitute. I sub when I want to and I only sub at the elementary school. I will eventually sub at the middle school but not yet. I have no desire to teach full-time. I never wanted to teach. But this allows me some flexibility and gives me a little bit of cash. I felt no guilt when I ran away with my friend to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in November–I had made sure I had worked enough days since the beginning of school to pay for the whole trip and not touch the family account.

I won’t make it rich subbing–not as sporadically as I do–but I know that if push came to shove and I needed to work as much as possible I could change gear and do so. I’m not sure I’d ever want to go back into editing full-time. I can’t stand people who cannot meet deadlines and I firmly believe that the more little letters after one’s name (i.e., PhD, LCS, MS, etc.) the less they know how to write a correct bibliography or proper footnotes. (I spent the bulk of my time correcting just their references!) And they aren’t nice about it either.

Perhaps this is why that ghostwriter gets 6 figures.

The more unstable I think the economic future of this country is becoming, the more I do want to stock more away. T2 only has one more year in elementary school. My days of volunteering will draw to a close (except for scouts) so perhaps I will sub more and save more. DH is keeping an eye on things and again, says “No pressure.” He feels I work enough holding down the fort for him while he is at sea.

Writing Prompts:

1.) Return to work after baby was born or stay home? How did you make your decision?
2.) Write a poem about inspired by the word: Storm
3.) You know the stories that are retold a million times at family gatherings? I call them Life Stories that you just never live down. List your Top 10 Life Stories. Example here.
4.) Describe a time you saw someone getting picked on.
5.) Write about one of your childhood heroes.

For more information on Mama Kat’s Writing Workshop, click on that top trophy over there…


Welcome to the World!

January 24, 2012

My sister had another boy yesterday. Cousin IT’s brother will be called Flat Stanley, declared Thing 1. (long story….)

Because the C-section was scheduled for 0-dark-30 about an hour and half north of me (so during rush hour traffic on a cold, dreary winter morning) my sister graciously said I did not have to be there. I was relieved but I feel bad for her nonetheless.

When I had T1 and T2, I had my husband and my best friend in the room. My sister was there but at the last minute the nurse kept her out–also telling my mother to leave. My in-laws were waiting in the hall. For my sister, my mother was keeping Cousin IT. She has no living in-laws (and brother and sister in-laws live states away). This must be what it is like for a true military spouse.

We went up in the afternoon to visit. I planned on lying and saying both girls belonged to my sister. Instead I said they were mine and that T1 was 14 and T2 was 9. T1 could go back but not T2. UGH. I probably should not have lied. Okay, I know I should not have lied. It set a very bad example for the girls. T2 and DH stayed out in the hall and T2 got M&Ms and got to play on DH’s Kindle Fire.

T1 got to hold the little peanut. 6 lbs. 10 oz. TINY! Mine were 8-6 and 9-2 (would have been 10 lbs. if I had gone to 40 weeks!). Even she felt a little uncomfortable with how small he was. So I took over and held him, talking to my sister. She had a much better time–amazing what an anesthesiologist who is on the ball can do! The nurse came in and said we could take Mr. Flat to the receptionist window for T2 and DH to see. That was very nice of them to help arrange that.

Back in the room I picked him up again, “I still don’t like babies but I will hold you today.”

We stayed until it was time for him to get his bath and my sister could get a chance to rest. We would later stop by and visit with my mother and Cousin IT.

On the way home, T1 asked what everyone asks me: “If you don’t like babies, how come you have us?”

I usually answer in two ways: “You didn’t stay babies long, did you?” and “It’s other people’s babies I don’t like.”

I said both to T1 and T2 but for the first time I talked about my other reasons. “I don’t like things I cannot control. Babies have so many unknown factors. Top that with different parenting types and I really just don’t like them. I was very nervous and anxious the first few weeks with both of you. I’m thankful Dad was home to help us get into a routine. I don’t know what kind of Grandma I’ll be–but as long as you do it my way, we’ll be fine!”

I went on to explain getting the dogs has been stressful. One good thing about retired greyhounds is that they’re relatively easy as long as you learn and establish a schedule. DH chimed in, pointing out that it is important for us to be in charge and not the other way around. “Dogs and children are the same in that way.”

I gave more examples: I don’t like troops that let their scouts run all over the place–you can tell the scouts do not respect their leaders; and I pointed out that the best teachers the girls have had (and T2 has had 95% the same ones) were the ones that had order and control of the class.

I explained it was my personality type, rather than explaining it is a PTSD thing. I also said it didn’t mean I wasn’t good with babies. In fact, I’m very good at soothing babies. I pointed out that my fly by the seat of their pants coleaders appreciate and value that I am an excellent planner–and yet in a chaotic crisis they cannot handle the situation and I’m called on to lead.

T1 has a similar personality type. Having a child that thrives on order and routine as much as I do actually makes her more predictable. T2 is a little more easy-going and flexible and yet she needs the routine more for discipline rather than comfort.

Change is hard for me. But I push myself because I don’t want to stagnate. I don’t want my fear to be a limitation that defines me in the eyes of my children. At the same time I’m not going to open up a daycare just to prove to myself or them that I can. “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” (Albert Einstein)

I’m really not a big fan of banging my head against a wall if I don’t have to. I’ll rise to the occasion when I’m a grandparent and perhaps the “child of my child” will give me more warm fuzzies than my nephews. For them, I will make an exception.

For the rest of you… babies are cute, just keep them at a distance. Small yappy dogs that cannot be trained are just that: small yappy dogs. I’ll take my greyhounds, even with their puppy chewing at the moment over your small yappy dogs any day of the week. I may be a strict scout leader but I know these girls will appreciate and thank me for it one day… and they’re still having fun!

So, my dear sweet newborn nephew, welcome to the world. I do love you and I will spoil you mercilessly, just like your brother. Just come talk to me when you’re a little older and more reasonable. Love, Auntie

Hmmm… for a different POV check out Mama Kat’s vlog My Husband is no spring chicken.

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